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John’s Pick: City Hunter

John staff picks photoJackie Chan is at his silliest in this live-action adaptation of City Hunter, a popular Japanese manga and anime. Chan plays Ryu Saeba, a private eye hired by a publishing magnate to find his missing daughter. The gags are lowbrow, but City Hunter still makes for a frenetic, fun movie.

By Readers' Advisor on October 23, 2012 Categories: Movies and TV, Picks by John, Staff Picks

John’s Pick: Two-Lane Blacktop

John staff picks photoThe late-60s/early-70s cycle of existential road movies yielded a number of interesting films, but perhaps the most overlooked is Monte Hellman’s minimalist masterpiece, Two-Lane Blacktop. “The Driver” and “The Mechanic” have simplified their lives to exist almost solely as extensions of the ‘55 Chevy they race from town to town.

By Readers' Advisor on July 31, 2012 Categories: Movies and TV, Picks by John, Staff Picks

John’s Pick: Leningrad Cowboys Go America

John staff picks photoThe Leningrad Cowboys – a Slavic folk band tagged as “the worst rock ‘n’ roll band in the world” – travel to America in search of success. That’s about as far as plot goes in Leningrad Cowboys Go America, an absurdest comedy that satirizes Americana, the immigrant experience, and the Soviet political system.

By Readers' Advisor on May 22, 2012 Categories: Humor, Movies and TV, Music, Picks by John, Staff Picks

John’s Pick: Vampire’s Kiss

John staff picks photoWhen a one-night stands nibbles at Peter’s neck, he convinces himself he’s turning into a vampire. Is he really? Not quite a psychological thriller and not quite a black comedy, Vampire’s Kiss mines queasy laughs from a narrative that could be considered tragic…plus, Nicholas Cage eats a real cockroach.

By Readers' Advisor on March 6, 2012 Categories: Horror, Movies and TV, Picks by John, Staff Picks

John’s Pick: One, Two, Three

John staff picks photoJames Cagney plays C.R. MacNamara, whose long-desired promotion depends on one thing: keeping an eye on the boss’ daughter as she vacations in Berlin. Billy Wilder’s famously sharp-tongued dialogue has never been as fast or as funny as in One, Two, Three, a raucous farce of Cold War capitalism.

By MPPL on December 20, 2011 Categories: Movies and TV, Picks by John, Staff Picks

John’s Pick: Hard Eight

John staff picks photoIn Hard Eight, Philip Baker Hall delivers a multi-layered performance as Sydney, an aging professional gambler who takes down-on-his-luck loser John (John C. Reilly) under his wing. John’s involvement with an equally wounded waitress (Gwyneth Paltrow) and a shady casino worker (Samuel L. Jackson) introduces a noir element into this compelling character study of a film.

By MPPL on October 4, 2011 Categories: Movies and TV, Picks by John, Staff Picks

Let’s Talk About Love

Let's Talk About Love book coverJohn of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends Let’s Talk About Love:  A Journey to the End of Taste by Carl Wilson:

Celine Dion’s music has millions of fans worldwide – so why do music critics hate it? One of those critics, Carl Wilson, set out to explore this disdain by examining Dion’s work from practically every imaginable musical and socio-cultural angle. What eventually emerges is a treatise on the very notion of “good taste,” delving into the ways in which we assign value to art can often be shaped by our unconscious prejudices. Let’s Talk About Love is likely to make you reexamine your own ideas about good and bad music.

By MPPL on August 1, 2011 Categories: Books, Music, Nonfiction, Picks by John, Staff Picks

John’s Pick: Weathercraft

John staff picks photoFor more than twenty years, Jim Woodring’s elegantly wordless “Frank” comics have immersed readers in a dreamlike, richly allegorical milieu which is equal parts unsettling and whimsical. 2010’s Weathercraft is Woodring’s first long-form work and possibly his best-realized. It follows one character’s ascension from total debasement into a kind of unexpected nobility.

By MPPL on July 12, 2011 Categories: Books, Picks by John, Staff Picks

John’s Pick: The Sandbaggers

John staff picks photoRunning from 1978 to 1980 on British TV, The Sandbaggers was essentially the antithesis of the James Bond movies. It replaced exotic locations and outlandish action sequences with a John le Carre-flavored down-to-earth emphasis on the political and emotional cost of espionage work, and was never less than totally absorbing.

By MPPL on April 26, 2011 Categories: Movies and TV, Picks by John, Staff Picks

John’s Pick: Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever

John staff picks photoMen’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever
was Yorkshire garage-pop trio The Cribs’ major-label debut. For once a shot at a wider audience made for the perfection of the sound (in this case, anthemic hooks married to witty lyrics and fluid, twitchy guitar), rather than its watering down—proving there’s life still left in the Strokes/Maximo Park school.

By MPPL on February 22, 2011 Categories: Music, Picks by John, Staff Picks